Police in Calaveras County, California made an arrest of a 12-year-old boy over the weekend. They say he killed 8-year-old Leila Fowler, his own sister, in her bedroom back on April 27. It's news that has shocked a nation. The death of a child is already fraught with confusion. Now we add a suspected child killer, a brother killing his sister.
And neighbors in Valley Springs, California are left to think ... what?
There's relief this week. Of course. For two weeks the community has lived in fear of a killer on the loose, a killer who they feared would break into their homes and murder their precious children.
An arrest means the threat is gone. Their children are safe.
And yet, knowing the identity of the alleged killer means anything but, doesn't it?
Their children have brushed elbows with a boy who -- if charges are to be believed -- killed his own sister. More than that, he is charged with stealing her life away not with a quick shot of a gun but with the brutality of a stabbing. And then lying about it all, saying that there was a man in their house.
This boy played with the kids in his community.
He accepted neighbors' comfort at the community vigils.
He walked among them.
He put on a show.
As a parent, it's our job to worry about our own kids. But it never stops there. We always look outward, at the kids our own kids are interacting with. How they affect our kids is among our biggest worries. Is my kid going to be swept into bad behavior? Is my kid being influenced?
We worry too that what other kids are doing could be a sign of what our own are up to. Is my kid really thinking that? Could my kid do that?
The boy's grief-stricken mom Priscilla Rodriquez told reporters that her son would never hurt his sister. But if the cops are right, he did more than that. He killed her. And their mother didn't even know.
Even as we feel comfort in knowing that the killer of this little girl seems to be off the streets away from our own kids, it's impossible not to put yourself in Rodriquez' shoes today too.
What was your first thought on hearing the boy had been arrested?
Image via police